With six games remaining, perhaps the course of Portsmouth's season has finally changed for the better. Not that it looked that way after 77 minutes, when Gavin McCann slid hard into Niko Kranjcar, and the hosts' best player was removed on a stretcher, first aid assistants scrambling around the Croat, immobilising his left leg. He will have a scan today.
Paul Hart, the Portsmouth manager, was forced to bring on Nadir Belhadj and from his corner, Kanu, an earlier substitute, got a knee on the ball for his first League goal of the season. It put Pompey level on points with Bolton and a little further from the relegation zone.
There was satisfaction and frustration voiced by Kanu, who has started only two League games this season.
He said: "Although the most important thing is that we won, it is difficult for me when I have not been playing, or coming on with 10 minutes to go when we are struggling. But this goal is good for me."
Now 32, the Nigerian is out of contract this summer and added: "I don't know what my future is. I love Portsmouth and I want to play for them. Maybe this was a little reminder to the manager."
Bolton had sat back all game and duly got what they deserved. Their manager, Gary Megson, expressed his surprise at such a limp performance, although given that he had prepared his team to be so negative, he could hardly have been too shocked. He remains concerned about his side's Premier League safety.
Only thanks to their goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, who made three excellent saves, all from Glen Johnson, did Bolton remain theoretically in contention. They only threatened David James in the home goal once.
If things were largely tedious before the goal, there was one moment to lift the mood, when referee Phil Dowd booked Nicky Hunt, an unused Bolton substitute, apparently for shouting messages to his team-mates on the pitch. "Maybe he did it because he was bored," said Hunt.
Portsmouth travel to Manchester United on Wednesday when, with both teams needing points for different reasons, there might not be such room for levity.
Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): James; Kaboul (Pennant, 89), Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson; Mullins, Davis; Johnson, Kranjcar (Belhadj, 77), Nugent (Kanu, 71); Crouch. Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Pamarot, Utaka, Hughes.
Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel; Basham; Davies, McCann, Gardner (Muamba, 12), Taylor; Elmander Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Hunt, Smolarek, Puygrenier, Makukula, Cohen
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Portsmouth Distin, Kranjcar; Bolton O'Brien, McCann, Davies, Hunt.
Man of the match: Kranjcar.
Attendance: 20,158Reuse content